Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might
Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
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neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost
importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and
your family are listed below.
Friday Night Fun
Date: Friday, Mar. 24, Doors open at 5:30 p.m., Movie starts at
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Bring your blankets and pillows and relax while
watching movies. Feel free to bring your own refreshments, all
refreshments must stay in designated movie area. Children under 10 must
be accompanied by an adult. FREE and open to the public. Sponsored by
the Friends of the Oak Creek Public Library.
CLICK HERE for more information!
Oak Creek Public Library
8040 S 6th St
Oak Creek, WI 53154
Evening in the Land of the Rising Sun at the UWM Planetarium
Date: Fridays March 24 through May 5, 2017, at 7 p.m.
Description: Say konnichiwa to our Evening in the Land of the
Rising Sun show. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking imagery of Japan
through all four seasons as you learn about festivals and Japanese
mythology. The show will be held in the planetarium Fridays at 7 p.m.
from March 24 to May 5, 2017. Admission is $4.
For more information, CLICK HERE!
UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium
1900 E Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Community Easter Egg Hunt at The Academy of Performing Arts - Oak Creek
Date: Sunday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: There will be hundreds of candy-filled eggs for the
kids to find. The Easter Bunny will also be there to take pictures with
the kids! This is a FREE event and open to the community. Invite your
friends and family! *Don't forget to bring a basket and your camera!*
This is event is 100% indoors, where it's nice and warm!
Pre-registration is a must!
For more information, CLICK HERE!
The Academy of
Performing Arts - Oak Creek
9160 South Pennsylvania Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154
Craft and Vendor
Date: April 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Description: The Friends of Cudahy Library will be sponsoring a
spring craft and vendor fair. Come shop for your favorite products while
supporting the library. Come hungry! The Cudahy Lions Club will be
offering a brat fry. Free drawing for a $100 Visa card!
CLICK HERE for more information!
Cudahy Family Library
3500 Library Ave
Cudahy, WI 53110
CHI Franciscan Villa Childcare Easter Bunny Event
Date: Thursday, April 13, 5:30 p.m. 7 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Take a picture with the Easter bunny, dye an Easter
egg, decorate an Easter cookie & more!
Call Stacy for
questions at: 414-570-5410.
CHI Franciscan Villa Child Day Care Center
3601 S Chicago Ave
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
13th Annual Eggs-travaganza
Date: Sat., April 15 at 9 a.m.
Description: Join the fun at the 13th Annual Spring Eggs-travaganza
scheduled in the children's play area of Riverside Park. Meet at Oakland
Ave and Newberry Blvd. Bring your containers, cameras, smiles, kids and
grandkids for our annual egg hunt.
Several thousand eggs are "hidden" for the hunt, including traditional
colored eggs, plastic eggs filled with candy, and special ceramic and
paper mache eggs produced by the artists at Murray Hill Pottery. The
Eggs-travaganza is sponsored by the Murray Hill Neighborhood
Association, Murray Hill Pottery Works, Walgreens and the Upper East
Side Business Improvement District.
CLICK HERE for more information!
1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Generation Gallery: Paper Play: Kindergarten to Contemporary Art
-- the gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and
Friday until 8 p.m.
The Milwaukee Art Museum invites families to come and explore the
innovative use of paper by contemporary artists, who use this humble
material in simple ways --folding, weaving, cutting, and stacking -- to
make extraordinary works of art. Families can explore the possibilities
of paper by creating a sculpture, a colorful weaving, and a mysterious
scene in four different activity stations. The Kohl's Art Generation
Gallery brings art and creativity to kids and their families through
family-friendly, hands-on activities.
CLICK HERE to learn more.
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 N. Art Museum Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
I hope you are enjoying your first official week of Spring and the ride
our Badgers are on in the NCAA.
This Monday, I will be hosting a town hall meeting with Rep. Sinicki and
Rep. Brostoff to discuss the state budget and other important state and
community issues. See below for further details -- I hope you are able
to make it!
In this week's Larson Report, we will discuss the education budget in
greater detail, including the news that broke this week. We will also go
over an alarming proposal snuck deep into the governor's budget bill
that hasn't received attention yet that would reverse decades of
progress in rooting out discrimination in the workplace.
State Senator, District 7
years of intentional underfunding, there is no doubt that our
neighborhood schools are worse as a result of Governor Walker and
The governor is seeing his dismal approval ratings plaguing him like a
dark cloud. He is now in a moment of desperation, grasping to reconnet
to with those he has neglected for years. Over the past two budget
cycles, Walker has slashed and burned our children's educational
opportunities. As a result of his schemes, Walker has seen his approval
plummet as parents, students, and educators have voiced their
frustrations and concerns.
Walker is now standing at a crumbling crossroads. After years of
neglect, Walker must desperately try to appease the every day
Wisconsinite as he looks to run for a third term. After years of
choosing to wine and dine his campaign donors over our kids, Walker's
feeble attempt too toss crumbs to our starved local, neighborhood
schools is too little and too late.
Walker Giving Wealthiest Districts More
Don't be fooled by Walker's so-called increase in education funding.
While on face value it would appear our schools are getting an extra
$200 per student in the 2017-2018 school year, and $404 per student the
following school year, most of this $649 million proposal is being divided up
using a different funding formula than in past years.
Instead of using the state's general aid formula, which considers
property values in a district when determining how much state funding
will go to each school, Walker is proposing the state allocates
education funding on a flat per pupil payment.
a result, children in Wisconsin's wealthiest districts will receive more
as a percentage than children from districts with a greater proportion
of low-income families. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project,
school districts where less than one third of the students are from
low-income families would receive an average increase of 6.3% in funding
over the course of the budget whereas school districts where more than
two-thirds of the students are low income would receive an average of
In short, the funds coming from the
state won't be going where they're needed most and will instead widen
the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Wisconsin.
Read the Wisconsin Budget Project analysis, here.
It's important to note that more
and more of our communities are passing referendums to try and make up
for the out-of-touch, irresponsible disinvestment in our schools that
jeopardizes the future of our children. In fact, when voters are asked
to pick up state's tab to provide basic support for their local schools,
80% of the time they say 'yes.' For example, the Wisconsin Budget
Project notes that the amount approved in 2016 for increases in revenue
limits that continue indefinitely was more than the amount approved in
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 -- combined. And the amount
of new borrowing that voters approved in 2016 is more than the amount
approved in 2013, 2014, and 2015, all combined. This is not a
sustainable path and it's irresponsible for the state not to step in to
Read more about the record passage of referendums, here.
Unfortunately, some of our
distressed neighborhoods have been economically squeezed dry and simply
cannot fill the funding gap. They need state legislators to provide all
schools with their fair share of funding. Sadly, by changing the way
that our resources are distributed and not fully recommitting our state
investment, this budget falls short of providing real opportunities for
each child in Wisconsin.
Also alarming is that the budget
does not provide for any increases in special education reimbursement
for schools. This is of further concern when considering that under the
governor's budget, districts would not be allowed to use the state money
to support centrally-funded services like student transportation or
special education. In past legislative sessions, I have introduced
legislation to increase special education reimbursement so children with
special needs are able to receive a quality education. I will be
reintroducing this legislation this session.
Additionally, Walker's budget
continues a destructive pattern of siphoning scarce public dollars from
our public schools to private, for-profit voucher schools.
More Money for Voucher Schools
the state budget discussion continues to advance, Wisconsinites must
make their voices heard so that their government works for them. It is
alarming to think by the end of this next budget cycle, a student in
kindergarten when Governor Walker introduced his first budget in 2011
will be moving on to high school. Throughout that critical time that
student has seen their value diminish through the largest cuts to K-12
education in state history, all while their thoughtful teachers-who
somehow became a scapegoat during the financial crisis-saw their
Our neighbors deserve a budget that reflects our shared values that
benefit the kids that need it most, not just a chosen few. In addition,
we must establish transparency in voucher school funding. Representative
Wachs and I introduced legislation to provide a factual breakdown of
public school funds being siphoned off to voucher schools clearly
identified on your annual property tax statements. It's common sense,
and it's long overdue. Transparency used to gather bipartisan support,
especially when increasing public awareness of where your money is
going. This is needed more that ever after the news this week.
In a never-ending plot to privatize our K-12 public education system,
Governor Walker's 2017-2019 budget is handing out even more taxpayer
dollars to for-profit, unaccountable voucher schools. According to a
memo released by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state
budget will hand an average of nearly $1000 more per pupil to voucher
school operators than to our own neighborhood public schools. This new
giveaway will set a record high for the state with a cost of $546.1
million to taxpayers in just one budget.
To be clear, this is careless spending that isn't improving our kid's
education or even fulfilling the original promises made when the system
was created 26 years ago.
Voucher schools are not required to provide the state with the same
student proficiency data as public schools or serve students with
special needs. In fact, with this free cash flow of public dollars, many
schools have a nasty tendency to repeat the worst conduct: they kick
kids out after they get their taxpayer subsidy, they screen out
hard-to-teach kids, they don't have diligent public oversight, and
still, most of them can't even compete with our best public schools.
This massive push to tear apart our public education system is
compounded by the fact that Governor Walker has also included a
provision that prohibits the Department of Instruction from asking for
proof of financial viability before handing over our hard-earned tax
money to unaccountable voucher operators. You read that right. What
could more clearly demonstrate the governor's willingness to give away
our money to his campaign donors, even if it means leaving the door open
for more bad actors to grab our tax dollars only to close-up shop a few
weeks later? This is a problem because, from 1991 to 2015, four out of
10 voucher schools receiving state funds through the Milwaukee Parental
Choice Program failed, closed their doors, and no longer exist. Overall,
voucher startup schools fail at a stunning rate of 68%.
This damage has to end. I hope you will join me in demanding Walker and
legislative Republicans fully invest in public education by restoring
the funds cut these last six years and ask for transparency in where our
public dollars are going.
One of our neighbors recently
contacted me with concerns that the state budget strips away
discrimination protection laws and access to having cases of employment
is a bit of background regarding this issue and why our current laws are
critically important. While employers can mostly hire and fire who they
want, they cannot fire or refuse to hire or promote someone because of
factors like their age, religion, race, or disability. Under Wisconsin's
Fair Employment Act, workers who are discriminated against based on such
factors have a right to seek justice and remedy by filing a complaint
with the state's Equal Rights Division, which is part of the Department
of Workforce Development.
In addition, if the employer is found to be guilty in their
discriminatory practice, the worker can recover attorney fees, even if
no other monetary award is given.
This is a critical component of our laws that was addressed in the
Supreme Court case Watkins v Labor and Industry Review Commission
of 1984. The court in this case recognized that few victims of
discrimination would pursue a claim as many do not have extra money to
hire an attorney. This is an important precedent, as it discourages
employers from discriminating against their employees.
Walker Budget Strips Away
Discrimination Protection Laws
Under the state budget proposal, even if the employer is guilty of
discrimination, the victim would not be provided compensation for their
attorney fees if no other monetary compensation is awarded in the case.
In the previously mentioned Watkins case, there was no monetary
award beyond that awarded for the worker's attorney fees, since she was
was seeking a transfer for a job with the same pay. The judge also
ordered for the discriminatory practices on the part of the employer to
cease. Under the governor's budget, the victim in this same case would
not have been compensated for her attorney fees since there was no other
Our employment safeguards can only work if there are consequences for
only does the governor's budget gut this protection against
discrimination, it goes so far as to further benefit and cater to
employers who break the law.
Tucked away deep into the budget is a backwards provision that puts
victims of discrimination on the hook for their employer's attorney
fees. It does this by creating a "offer of settlement" provision in
which an employer may serve an employee a settlement proposal as little
as ten days after they file an equal rights complaint. If the employee
does not accept the offer within ten days of its receipt, it is
considered to be declined. If the employee proceeds with their case and
does not receive "more favorable award" (see example below) from the
court, they must pay the employers' attorneys' fees and costs from the
date of their offer.
Read a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about this issue, here.
The neighbor who brought this issue
to my attention provided this example: an employee who believes he has
been terminated based on his age files an age discrimination complaint
with the Equal Rights Division. Ten days after he files his complaint,
the employer sends him an "offer of settlement" proposing to resolve all
claims for a payment of $1,000. The employee does not believe the offer
is fair or sufficient as he will have difficulty getting other
employment and his back pay will be significantly more than the offer,
and the offer does not include reinstatement. However, if he declines
the offer he is putting himself at risk for having to pay not only his
own attorneys' fees but also the employer's attorneys' fees if he does
not receive a "more favorable award." The fees for the employer's
attorney by the time the employee gets to a hearing could be tens of
thousands of dollars. Faced with the risk of further financial ruin, few
employees will be able to afford to pursue their claims and attorneys'
advising such employees will be unable to represent them given the risk
that their fees will not be paid either.
budget measure, if passed, will essentially strip away access to crucial
remediation at the state level for victims of discrimination. Just as
Walker and legislative Republican's repealed Wisconsin's Equal Pay
Enforcement Act, they are now gutting protections that stop employment
discrimination. Notably, there is another section of the budget that
would create an identical rule for violations of Wisconsin's Family
Medical Leave protections.
I know that this is an issue that will be important to many of our
neighbors, which is why this week's Take Action section will provide a
way for you to voice your concerns about this harmful budget provision.
week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth
information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison
and in our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most
pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are
some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
Don't Strip Away
Access to Health Care
This week, I signed onto a letter
with my Democratic colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to
Wisconsin's Congressional delegation sharing our serious concerns
over Congressman Ryan's scheme to strip health care away from
millions of our neighbors. The Republican plan looming at the
federal level would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket and force
24 million Americans to lose their health insurance.
In Wisconsin, 220,000 of our friends, family, and neighbors were
able to access affordable health care coverage through the
Affordable Care Act. Should Trump and Republicans at the federal
level get their way, these individuals are at risk of losing their
coverage and another 3.2 million individuals could see higher
It is immoral to strip away access to lifesaving health care from
our neighbors -- many of whom are seniors and individuals with
disabilities. This week, disability advocates came to my office and
spoke about some of the grave concerns they have over attacks on our
health care system. One neighbor feared that should these changes go
through, she could lose access to the lifesaving medicine and
treatment she currently needs.
We cannot go back to the failed system that returns our health care
to the hands of profit-motivated insurance companies. Wisconsinites
deserve better, which is why I am asking our federal representatives
to do the right thing and push against any effort to take away
affordable health care options.
Read the letter, here.
Wisconsin Must Strengthen Workplace
Safety and Flexibility, Not Weaken It
Last week, legislative Republicans and Democrats demonstrated very
clear differences when it comes to workplace safety and flexibility
and strengthening families.
Sen. Ringhand and Rep. Pope have proposed the Wisconsin Family
Medical Leave Insurance Act, which would ensure economic stability
during times of need by allowing hardworking Wisconsinites to take
paid leave - at no cost to employers - during a family illness or
birth or adoption of a child.
This is an important proposal that will strengthen our Wisconsin
families, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor of it.
In contrast, Republican's held a hearing this week on Senate Bill
11, which puts our children at risk by weakening Wisconsin's child
labor laws that protect the health and safety of our children.
This bill would eliminate a critical Department of Workforce
Development (DWD) and parental permit process that was instituted to
protect the health and safety of our children. Under our current
laws, a child's parent or guardian, as well as DWD, sign off on a
child's work schedule and conditions, ensuring it is safe and
appropriate for them to do a particular job.
Notably, DWD already has a process in place for work permits to be
issued if a child does not have a parent or legal guardian.
Senate Bill 11 removes important parental and community safeguards
and endangers the health and wellbeing of our children.
Wisconsinites expect a government that prioritizes policies that
strengthen families and increases economic security and vitality.
This week made it very clear on which legislative leaders hold these
same shared Wisconsin values. Wisconsin can and must do better.
See this Wisconsin State Journal article for more on the
Putting an End to
Drunk Driving in Wisconsin
A new report by Mothers
Against Drunk Driving (MADD), shows that in Wisconsin the usage of
Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) effectively reduces drunk driving.
IIDs prevent cars from starting if the would-be driver has a blood
alcohol content that is above the legal limit. The MADD report shows
Wisconsin led the nation with interlock devices stopping almost
37,000 drunk driving attempts.
This new report is further proof that the use of IIDs is successful
in changing offenders' behavior. Last session, I introduced the
Drunk Driving Prevention Act, which would have required all drivers
convicted of an OWI to install an IID. This would have been a solid
step forward in ending the fatalities, injuries, and property loss
caused by drunk drivers, which is why I will be reintroducing this
legislative idea this session.
Read this news article for more information about the MADD report.
Assault on our Health and Environment
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a hearing recently about
the results of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau's (LAB) 2016
audit of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wastewater
Permitting and Enforcement program.
Through this program, Walker's DNR is supposed to be monitoring
pollutant discharge into our surface and groundwater from factory
farms, also referred to as CAFOs, and other pollution generating
The LAB's audit revealed the shocking fact that the DNR has
consistently failed in their duty to adequately inspect these CAFO
polluters and what's even more appalling is that the DNR took no
action on 94% of pollution violations.
Rather than strengthening our ability to safeguard our shared lands
and waters, Walker and legislative Republicans have dangerously
diminished staffing and resources at the DNR, and this audit shows
the damaging impacts of the governor and GOP choosing corporate
polluters over our waters.
This is an unacceptable assault on our health and environment.
Share this Facebook post about the issue and also call Governor
Walker today at 608-266-1212 and demand that his DNR hold these